Though it shames me a little to admit it, I am a little bit filthy, and while I’m plenty picky about quality writing and good story, it’s very rare that I take the time to read a fic that has no sex in it at all. A recent exception has been Bellus et Bestia by CandidCantrix on AO3. The story is a Dragon Age: Inquisition AU about Dorian and The Iron Bull that takes place before the game’s story. It really delves into Qunari culture and Iron Bull’s mental state, as well as taking a slightly different approach to Dorian’s past. It is very, very loosely based on the story of Beauty and the Beast, but instead of taking the obvious tack and making the eight-foot-tall horned Qunari the “beast” character, Iron Bull is actually the one who gets captured and held captive by Dorian, who is rather horrifically less pretty in this AU than in the game.
Before my hiatus, I managed to play the latest and last DLC from Dragon Age: Inquisition (which is more like saying I sat in front of my computer reloading the downloads until I could purchase it on the day it released). “Trespasser” was advertised not only as answering one of the bigger questions that the ending of the main game lef, but also finally showing the player some of the political, and otherwise, ramifications of their inquisition. Was “Trespasser” everything the player-base was wishing for? Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but it’s exactly what I was wishing for.
As literally anyone who knows me in any capacity will have heard (ad nauseum) by now, I have spent a lot of time lately playing Dragon Age: Inquisition. Like, a lot of time. Throughout the game and as I devoured peripheral media afterward, I found that the universe in which Dragon Age takes place is delightfully meaty, full of complex themes, metaphors, and social commentary. Particularly interesting and expansive were Bioware’s concepts about magic — how it works, its limitations, and its effects on society. Varied public opinions on magic mean that magic-users are given drastically different treatment in different regions of Thedas. Not only is magic and the control thereof a major source of political tension, the various in-universe religions, especially the Chantry, have strong and vocal opinions on the matter that help to shape public sentiment, leading to constant disputes about mage rights.
Just as interesting as the social consequences of magic is the concept of the Fade: the physical source from which magic flows. Though it is observable, the Fade is very mercurial and very different from the material world, and is fairly poorly understood by the denizens of Thedas. For mages, who are born with innate abilities to channel magic, the Fade is the source of their power, but for everyone else, it is the source of dreams and (according to some) desires and temptations.
Late to the party as usual, I recently started playing a little game called Dragon Age: Inquisition, a stellar endeavor in videogame storytelling, and a goddamn work of art as far as I’m concerned. Also, it has butts. In my play through I opted to romance Dorian, the gay necromancer from Tevinter, but I then learned to my delight that had I not opted to romance Dorian, he would have begun a background romance storyline with a massive, intimidating Qunari mercenary called the Iron Bull. I found this aspect of the story both hilarious and charming, but after discussing it with my lunchtime friend, Dillon from Goldburgers, he remarked blithely, “that is definitely some kind of bestiality.”
This statement perplexed me a bit. Sure, Qunari aren’t human and have some distinctly un-human features, but they’re far from the first or the most exotic humanoid fictional race to acceptably get it on with humans. Even people who have never seen Star Trek know that Captain James T. Kirk has banged no shortage of space babes. In virtually every high fantasy novel, some human or other gets into it with some elf or other. Why does no one think of these human/non-human relationships as bestiality? In the context of non-human but sentient races, what defines bestiality, and does the concept even apply? Which people may we acceptably bang and why may we bang those people and not others? These are the real questions.